The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans’ organization devoted to mutual helpfulness.  It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans’ service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow service members and veterans.

Focusing on service to veterans, service members and communities, the Legion evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States.  Membership swiftly grew to over 1 million, and local posts sprang up across the country.  Today membership stands at over 2.4 million in 14,000 posts worldwide.  The posts are organized into 55 departments: one each for the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico, and the Philippines.

Over the years, the Legion has influenced considerable social change in America, won hundreds of benefits for veterans and produced many important programs for children and youth.

The American Legion is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization with great political influence perpetuated by its grass-roots involvement in the legislation process from local districts to Capital Hill.  Legionnaires’ sense of obligation to community, state and nation drives an honest advocacy for veterans in Washington.  The Legion stands behind the issues most important to the nation’s veterans community, backed by resolutions passed by leadership.


May 25th, 1981 was the first Memorial Day that burial flags of Columbus veterans were flown at Frankfort
Square. This program actually started the previous June at the Hartman Post 84 regular monthly meeting.
Mike Landkamer showed a super 8 movie of Memorial Day in Hebron, Nebraska, where his grandfather’s flag flies on Memorial Day.

Mike was also elected Post Commander at that meeting and made the Memorial Day Flag Program his project.
Mike also worked with Joe Penscik who was the Commander of the VFW, to make this a joint project.

Yes there were growing pains but everything came together. The City of Columbus was excited to have this
program in Frankfort Square. Previously the Memorial Day program was held in Columbus cemetery with a turnout of 200 or less.

Mr Lloyd Castner, who was the City Administrator at the time also worked very hard to promote this
program. As things came together, Frankfort Square would have four sections for the flags. The American
Legion would have the east triangle, the VFW the north triangle, the DAV the west triangle and the Son’s
of the American Legion the south triangle. Along the west sidewalk of Frankfort Square would be where
the flags of the one’s who were Killed in Action would fly.

At the March 1981 meeting of Hartman Post 84 it was decided that if we did not have at least 60 burial
flags by the April Post meeting the program would be scraped. Gene Kuhn who was the Second Vice
Commander and Americanism Chairman contacted the widows of Columbus veterans and started gathering the
burial flags. By the time of the April Post meeting, thru Gene’s hard work over 90 flags had been
donated for the Memorial Day Program.

Mark Kudron, who was the City Parks Supervisor, worked very close with us in the placement of pipe in
the ground for the flag poles. On that first Memorial Day Mark was there helping us. If a branch was
touching one of the flags, Mark would trim it.

Memorial Day, Monday, 25th, 1981 saw 126 burial flags flying in Frankfort Square. It was a very beautiful
day. There were nearly 1000 people in attendance. The Nebraska Air National Guard did a fly over during
the program flying four RF4’s and did the missing man formation as they flew over the square.

This program has continued to grow through the years as there are over 1400 flags flying on Memorial Day.
The flags are displayed not only in Frankfort Square, but on the Court House lawn, and along the streets
and avenues in downtown Columbus along with Roselawn Cemetery. Members from the American Legion, VFW, DAV,
AMVETS, 40&8, Boy Scouts, Son’s of the American Legion, American Legion Riders, and just common citizens
of Columbus help raise the flags at 6:00 am on Memorial Day and lower them at 6:00pm that evening.